Instead of One-Size-Fit-All Austerity, Iceland Tries Something Different

Democracy, what a concept:

“Iceland is to review its constitution in a unique experiment in direct democracy that will see citizens forming a new people’s assembly.

An election tomorrow will select up to 31 citizens who will form the constitutional assembly that will convene early next year. Those elected will receive a salary equal to that of Iceland’s MPs while the review takes place.

One candidate, Thorvaldur Gylfason, a professor of economics at the University of Iceland, said the country needed a fresh start after its economic implosion in 2008. “We need to ensure that the sort of malpractice and negligence that… led to the collapse of the Icelandic economy two years ago, cannot happen again.”

Berghildur Erla Bergthorsdottir, the spokeswoman for the organising committee, said: “This is the first time in the history of the world that a nation’s constitution is reviewed in such a way.”

“We are hoping this new constitution will be a new social covenant leading to reconstruction and reconciliation, and for that to happen, the entire nation needs to be involved,” said the prime minister, Johanna Sigurdardottir.””

Of course, who knows what will come out of this but at least it is better than the one-size-fit-all of “let’s make the masses pay for the greed and recklessness of the financial sector and the wealthy.” And this might go a long way towards reducing the crisis of legitimacy or, to remain Habermasian, the colonization of the lifeworld by the system.

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